At the baseball game was 23-year-old teacher Lea Bishop, who grew up knowing she wanted to work with children with autism. Nearby, 15-year-old Cody, who has never let his autism interfere with the joy of being in the stands cheering for whoever hits the ball, waited impatiently for the first pitch. May Institute families and staff members lined up at the concession stands juggling hot dogs and cameras in anticipation of the game. And standing behind home plate was award-winning recording sensation aika, who lit up the stadium with her emotional performance of “All He Has To Say.”
It was at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Mass., home of the Brockton Rox baseball team, that these individuals came together. The stadium served up the perfect backdrop for Family Night, a fundraiser sponsored by the May Center for Child Development school in Randolph, Mass.
Jessica Busch, Family Services Coordinator, explained the significance of the event. “For parents of children with special needs, social outings can be very challenging," she said. “These events are intended to bring everyone together to have fun, but also to do it in an environment that gives the parents and families the support they need. It's wonderful for them to be worry-free in community settings like a baseball stadium.”
The evening took on more emotional dimension not only for the May Institute contingent, but for other Brockton Rox fans as well. The evening featured the debut of a new single entitled, “All He Has To Say,” performed by singer/songwriter aika (Aika Hirahara).
The song was inspired by a poem Lea had written based on a particularly memorable experience she had as a teacher at the May Center for Child Development. “There is an extricable bond between teacher and students with autism,” Lea explains. “One day we were talking to the kids about their teacher leaving. Some of them are non-verbal or have difficulty with communication. We weren’t sure whether all of them understood that the teacher wouldn’t be coming back. But then one child got up from the circle and walked over to give her a big hug. For me, that moment captured the connection that exists between the child with autism and the world around him or her.”
Lea began to pursue ways to use the poem to benefit children with autism, build public awareness, and offer support to parents. With these shared goals and a desire to touch others the way her compelling lyrics had touched them, friends in the Boston music community banded together and collaborated with Lea to put her words to music. The music was written by producer/songwriter Nicolas Farmakalidis, with lyrics written by Boston songwriter Will Carr, inspired by Lea.
Nicolas Farmakalidis, President and CEO of Neila Productions, said, “We all had one goal in mind and spirit. We wanted to translate her message into a song and musical arrangement that would hopefully touch people the way the lyrics touched all of us.”
Well-known Japanese recording artist, aika, echoed this sentiment. “I read the lyrics and knew with I wanted to be involved with this song. My hope is that the music helps people better understand the complexity and challenges of autism.”
Listening to aika’s performance, several parents were moved to tears by the hope and strength that the song exudes.
Candy, mother of a nine-year-old son with autism who is a student in the May Center’s Early Intervention program, said, “When you are the parent of child with autism, it easy to feel very isolated. Listening to this song not only reassures me that I am not alone in this journey, but equally important, reminds me of just how very lucky my son is to have teachers that care so very much.”
“All He Has To Say” is now available for purchase through www.allhehastosay.com, iTunes, and www.cdbaby.com. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the song will be donated to the May Center for Child Development.